Music to my Ears #4

I went through a bit of a music slump and then all of a sudden found myself listening to albums all over the place. So choosing 3 was actually a bit of a challenge. I stuck with 2 rather recent albums as well as a compilation album for an incredible movie (seeing as I don’t listen to compilations that often…)

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1. Kintsugi by Death Cab for Cutie

I will always get excited when a new Death Cab album is released, but I never really got into their previous album and so when I listened to this the first time through and realised it was a winner I was beyond happy. To me this album sounds like the perfect development from older albums and also incorporates certain elements of The Postal Service. Its a good mix of upbeat singles and slower ballads, catchy tunes and restrained vocals, electronic and acoustic elements, and yet the album flows really nicely. Ever since the first time the OC played Lack of Colour, I fell in love with Death Cab and so falling in love with a new album was pretty darn satisfying.

Listen to: Black Sun, Little Wanderer, El Dorado and Binary Sea.

2. Darling Arithmetic by Villagers

I have Dad to thank for introducing me to the Villagers through my favourite track by them; Becoming a Jackal (which annoyingly doesn’t appear on this album), and have been immersing myself in their albums ever since. This newest album was released earlier this year, and shows a rather restrained and elegant style of theirs that I really enjoy. This album is beautifully melancholic and simple, put together in a really neat way. If you’re a fan of Kings of Convenience (which I am) then this folky acoustic album will definitely be up your alley. If not, listen to Becoming a Jackal, their debut album to hear another side of their music.

Listen to: Courage, Everything I am is Yours, Dawning on Me and The Soul Serene.

3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Soundtrack

Weirdly appropriate, as this time last year I was on a plane to London watching this movie for the first time. First things first, if you haven’t seen this movie, you should. Its Ben Stiller at his best, and its also a reminder of how incredible and beautiful life can be. Its fantastic, and had a pretty perfect accompanying soundtrack. This soundtrack is perfect for a Sunday morning spent pottering (which is my favourite thing to do on a Sunday). There’s a cool mix of songs from a few different artists, but most of it is Jose Gonzalez or his band Junip (I’m not complaining at all).

Listen to: Stay Alive by Jose Gonzelez, Don’t Let It Pass by Junip, and Don’t You Want Me by Bahamas and the Weather Station (such a cool cover).

Give some of these a listen and let me know what you think.

What have you been playing recently?

Music to my Ears #3

Another month nearly over, another post to share some very well-loved albums. Somehow I accidentally managed to select albums all released in 2014, which is strange for someone who is usually at least 5 years behind everyone else. They are all excellent albums worth your time, promise (or at least they were for me…but that sounds a lot less convincing).

Chet Faker: Built on Glass (2014)

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I think I discovered Chet Faker through Pandora and have been enjoying his chilled vibes ever since. His music is a real mixture of influences, with a bit of R&B, soul, jazz all wrapped up in a modern techno sound that gets better each time I listen. Each song has a different feel to it and yet it all flows together as an album really smoothly (it’s actually split into two half’s but I didn’t even realise this until today) . I love it all. Its well reviewed by most for good reason and a great album to have on for a relaxed sunday get together over a few beers. He is right up the top of artists I would travel to see live.

Listen to: Talk is Cheap, Gold, 1998 and Cigarettes & Loneliness (my favourite)

Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness (2014)

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You might remember Angel Olsen from my Laneway related music post where I mused over musicians I was excited to see. Well I saw Angel Olsen, and she was just as good live (and also a total babe). I have still been loving this album pretty much constantly and wanted to bring it up again in case you hadn’t taken my advice to give her a listen last time round. I love this album because it shows off two very different sides to Angel’s music. There’s the electronic folk rock side that is upbeat, energy driven and fun like in Hi-Five and Forgiven/Forgotten and then there is her other quieter, more minimal and emotional songs (that if I’m honest I connect with and adore the most) like Unfucktheworld and  White Fire. Its all good stuff and if you are into alternative rock/folk music then this could be right up your alley.

Listen to: Unfucktheworld (the song that made me fall in love with this album), Hi-Five, and the beautiful Windows.

Tiny Ruins: Brightly Painted One (2014)Tiny Ruins Brightly Painted One

Another Laneway find, we were lucky enough to stumble across this act whilst trying to source coffee and from across a very hot carpark I was enchanted by the dreamy, delicate vocals of Hollie Fullbrook. Their album offers the same evocative and gentle sounds that are a result of her simple yet beautiful lyrics and the sparse use of instruments. The sound reminds me of things like Fleet Foxes or Kings of Convenience, and its equally as wonderful. This is the kind of album where each song asks to be replayed over and over until you finally get the image being created. Its beautiful and definitely worth a listen, especially if you need something for relaxing evening (i’m thinking bath, candles and wine…).

Listen to: Me at the Museum, You in the Winter Gardens, Carriages and Reasonable Man

Give them all a listen and let me know what you think 🙂 What have your ears been listening to?

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Music to my Ears #2

So my music tastes range from standard middle of the road to down right random, but my favourite word to describe my musical orientation (as well as myself in general) is eclectic. Its a nice word, weird to say but pretty to look at and tricky to attempt to spell. And I like to think I identify with it, although I’m sure most of the time I come across as the most average/boring person.

I love music and I enjoy talking about it with others, so Music to my Ears is making a comeback, so get ready.

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Banks: Goddess

Banks is a bit of  a wonderful mystery to me, but the more I listen to her album the more it wins me over. First listen through I wasn’t sold, but I was intrigued by her captivating vocals and trance like beats. Now that I am more familiar with her style I can’t get enough. If you haven’t listened to her yet (go do it), imagine something along the lines of Aaliyah/The XX/Lorde kind of style. I’m probably describing it all wrong but that’s the best I can do. This makes the perfect lazy weekend album to have on in the background while you waste the day pretending to do housework.

Listen to: Brain (my favourite track of the album), You Should Know Where I’m Coming From, and the popular Fuck ‘Em Only We Know

Ben Howard: I Forget Where We Were

I am not sure how I managed to avoid getting in to Ben Howard’s music before the past month or so. His soft acoustics and soulful lyrics are right up my alley (okay so I have a lot of alleys, but his music is right up one of them). This album is his more recent one, released this year, and I love the quiet intensity of his moodier tracks. Its a great album, easy to listen to and a bit of a crowd pleaser. Now just please stand aside while I weep into pillow with regret for missing his August concert. At the time I barely recognised his name. Ah, regret, you old friend.

Listen to: Small Things, I Forget Where We Were, End of the Affair

Alt J: This is all yours

I saved my favourite for last and anyone who is unlucky enough to spend much time with me will know that this album has been almost exclusively played over and over until i had to force myself to ration it out (once a day maximum, no more than 4 times a week). Alt-J are one of the very few performers I would travel large distances to go and see, which is a pretty big deal considering I am normally too lazy to go to concerts in the city where I live.

This is their second album (I raved about their first album over here) and for me its the best music they have produced, but I can also see some people preferring their more mainstream (if you could ever classify alt-J as mainstream) first album. This is all yours is a unique series of tracks, that in my opinion are best played as a set. I won’t try and review them any more than to say that the album is very different. Its a bit weird, a little creepy at times (see the lyrics of Every Other Freckle, one of my favourite tracks) but incredibly interesting and evocative to listen to. I find their album creates a experience that I get absolutely drawn into, with soft melodies, haunting vocals and the odd punch of upbeat rock. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I think Alt-J are doing something very different and if I had to listen to one album for all of 2014 it would have been this.

Listen to: Nara, Hunger of the Pine (keep an eye out for a weirdly perfect Miley Cyrus ??), Warm Foothills (this makes my heart feel all warm and happy) and The Gospel of John Hurt. Just listen to the album, several times in a row. You won’t regret it (You might but I didn’t).

What has been playing for you recently?

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Music to my Ears #1

Hey All!

So if any of you have been reading my blog for a while you may remember when I used to do an albums of the month (semi) regularly. I stopped after a while because the pressure of finding new albums I liked every month when sometimes I just wanted to listen to the same song on repeat was getting a bit frustrating.

So here it is..back and better because it won’t be every month but just whenever I have a few new albums that I want to share as being favourites at the time. Less pressure, less often and more genuine in that I have actually been listening to the albums for more than 10 seconds. A win-win I say. Ready to jump in? I hope you have a cup of tea cause this isn’t short..

11. The Best of Joy Division

A little bit of context here: I have been a big fan of Joy Division since I was around 15 and my Dad introduced me their post-punk sound and tragic back story. Then at the beginning of this month Edd and I finally got around to watching the very popular black and white film “Control” which focuses around Ian Curtis, the lead singer, and the story behind the music. The film was incredible and I definitely recommend you go watch it regardless of whether you have listened to the music or not. I could do a whole post on the film but I’ll stick to just using it to explain why this month I couldn’t resist getting back into listening to all of my favourite tracks.

The style of music is a combination of post-punk and new wave. They were pretty inventive for the period in which they started and their heavy base line along with Ian Curtis’ characteristically deep, monotonous vocals are still unique and not really comparable to any thing else that I have listened to. The pulsating music is a perfect back drop for Ian’s tormented lyrics which are a big part of what I love about Joy Division.

Two words: Haunting & Rythmic

Songs you should listen to: All 14 preferably but my personal favourites range from he high energy tracks such as “Disorder” and “Transmission” to the more sombre and haunting tracks like “Atmosphere” and the depressing but poetic track of “New Dawn Fades” (which also features my favourite lyric).

2.The  Foals Holy Fire

Moving on to something a little more recent, lately I have been loving the fun new album by The Foals. I have heard that this album isn’t the best of theirs but it is the first I have listened to so with a lack of comparison I rather love it. Confident and manicured you can tell this is their third album and although at times it does sound a bit commercial, the majority of the tracks are alternative and upbeat and make the perfect songs to blast in the car when I can sing along at the top of my voice. There is enough variety to keep the album interesting and their style of energetic, alternative rock keeps me coming back for more.

Two words: Dynamic and Catchy

Songs you should listen to: There is the strong, upbeat track “My Number” which you probably already know (and it is always stuck in my head) but other good tracks include “Everytime”, “Out of the Woods” and the slower, captivating “Moon”.

3. Daft Punk Random Access Memories

Another popular album that I should of gotten into ages ago and yet after the first listen I decided I didn’t like and ignored for months afterwards (please tell me other people make this mistake). Recently, a colleague was listening to this and I started to realize that I was enjoying it way more than I anticipated. Now it is a favourite for when I want something techno, energetic and just a little bit random. I don’t know Daft Punk well but this album is such an eclectic mix of jazz tracks, techno beats, passionate opera vocals and so much more. Somehow this weird and wonderful mix creates an album like nothing I have listened to before, something creative and surprising and all round kind of wonderful.

Two words: Eclectic and Tactile

Songs you should listen to: Another album where it’s hard to choose favourites, mainly because all the songs are so different, but I can’t go past the song everyone knows and has heard 8 billion times “Get Lucky” (honestly, I could listen to that song on repeat for hours and not get bored of Pharrell’s charming vocals and the extremely catchy tune). As well as this I also love the robotic and rather hypnotic track “Doin’ It Right” and as the strange yet captivating Opera track “Touch” featuring Paul Williams. An eclectic mix of sounds and beats, I am glad to say I finally understand the well deserved hype.

4. London Grammar If You Wait

So to finish off, this album has been one I have been obsessed with for months now. How could I not be with the breathtaking vocals of Hannah Reid that are perfectly paired with the restrained and yet emotionally nuanced music. I think of them in the same way as The xx in comparing the careful composition of urgent vocals and delicate, seemingly simple songs. Although some of the songs are almost too composed and sound a little too manicured for the majority of the album there is a juxtaposition of  melancholic introspection and emotional climaxes. The debut of this English trio blows my mind in how sad and yet uplifting the tracks can be. The balance isn’t perfect 100% of the time but when it works, it’s graceful and subtle and all other sorts of wonderful things.

Two words: Beautiful and Captivating

Songs you should listen to:  “Hey Now” as well as “Wasting My Young Years” which both exemplify the balance between the composure and the urgency that Reid’s vocals convey all within the one song,  “Strong” which is my personal favorite to sing to as it the vocals are deep one moment and soaring the next, and then the unexpected but wonderfully crafted “Interlude” which is one of the rare times where the vocals become almost secondary to the haunting piano and instrumentation. Lastly, a special mention for “Nightcall” which is a wonderfully emotional cover of a Kavinsky track (also very awesome, go check out the original first).

I feel like that was one monster of a music post but trying to sum up an album in a few words is tricky when you have no knowledge of music technology.

What music has been occupying your time lately?

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Album of the Year?

Hi All!

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So I promised you last post that I was planning to expose you to the album that has played non-stop, on repeat for weeks now and may very well be my album of the year. This little black horse that came out of nowhere and blew my mind is Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave. Alt-J are an indie English band and this is their debut album. Debut. I kid you not. The synth/indie/folk/pop (the number of genres I need to begin to describe this are a little disturbing) album) and band are compared commonly to Radiohead but for me personally I hear more of a more upbeat and inventive Bon Iver or Fleet Foxes in terms of their vocals and the lack of comprehensible structure/beat. The vocals are strange and unusual in an awesome and dreamlike way. The whole album just carries me through this slightly psychedelic, visual (don’t ask me how) and dynamic journey punctuated with clever rhythms and strange instrumentals. How the whole album sounds both hopeful and accessible whilst arty and melancholic slightly confuses me the result is nothing less than wonderful. Go and listen to any song of the album and I feel you will hear something new.

Having said that my favourites off the album (nearly impossible to choose) range from the smooth synth tune Tessellate with its slightly deeper base line to Breezeblocks with the popular R&B/Island rhythms that are crazy addictive and then to Matilda which to me demonstrates how charged with emotion the album can get. I also must mention Taro as another favourite, it is folky and moving without losing the quirky qualities that make this album work . I don’t even really know how to describe these songs to do them justice.

The album as a whole works perfectly with charged up stunners interspersed with some more instrumental palate cleansers. The whole thing goes together to create an electrifying and quirky listen that I think compares well to The XX’s debut in that it kind of defies traditional classification. I tried my best to explain the adoration I have for this album but I am not a music reviewer and this will leave a lot unsaid. Spend an evening listening to this and I promise you won’t regret it. If I ever see them playing here in New Zealand I will sell my firstborn for tickets.

Xx

Albums of June

Hi all!

So it may be the 8th of July but here are some overdue albums for last month. I had two real gems that I have been enjoying all month and decided I had to briefly share them with you!
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1. The Phoenix Foundation: Fandango

Such a unique little kiwi band that I have never taken the time to properly listen to before but I am glad I finally decided to give their indie/alternative album a go. This album is full of quirks and unique songs that sound familiar and yet completely new all at once. I find this type of music really hard to describe so I won’t even try but if you have watched Boy or Eagle vs Shark and enjoyed the rather wonderful music that went with them then you can thank The Phoenix Foundation. Go and give them a listen and if you like what you here they are playing throughout NZ very soon (and for a very affordable price) so come along!

Songs you should listen to: Black Mould, The Captain, Thames Soup, Corale.

2. The National: Trouble Will Find Me

The National are another new band for me and one I am not sure how I have gone so long without coming across their albums. On Wikipedia they are compared to Joy Division, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Leonard Cohen, 3 amazing artists/bands who I thoroughly enjoy listening to so it comes as no surprise that this mellow yet self-assured album is a winner. Although the album sounds melancholic there’s more to the lyrics and mesmerizing baritone vocals than first meets the eye. It took me a few listens to really start getting where this album was coming from. Intense and soulful, beautiful and dark. If you somehow haven’t come across them give it a go!

Songs you should listen to: Don’t Swallow the Cap, Sea of Love, Heavenfaced, Slipped.

So there are two albums I demand you go listen to for at least 5 minutes and report back with any thoughts.

Let me know if you already know about these bands and what albums of theirs I should listen to next.

Xx

Albums of the month for May!

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Hi All,

I have just spent the day in bed feeling rather rotten but am hoping tomorrow I will feel well enough to crawl into work and answer phones for 8 hours (not easy to do with a massive head cold and a whole load of mucus, too much info, sorry). However I thought I would drag myself away from watching back to back Amazing Race episodes (reality tv is my drug, it could be worse) to bring you 3 albums from snother good music month with some cool new additions to the music scene.

1. Lorde: The Love Club EP

A short 5 song album from this stunning 16 year old Aucklander! I would be jealous if I wasn’t so overwhelmed by her rather special take on indie-pop that has launched her as an international sensation (the things I was doing when I was 16 were no where near as interesting, in fact not much has changed HA). It’s rather hard to believe the voice and talent of these 5 songs has been written and performed by such a young newcomer to the music world, in fact it leaves you kind of dumb struck. All 5 songs on the EP have something unique to offer but my favorites would have to be Bravado and The Love Club.

2. Deep Sea Arcade: Outlands

My next favorite of the months was this great LP by a relatively new Australian band which was featured on 95bfm and one song left me wanting more (in a good way). The album is a pretty varied mix of british indie/brit pop, pychodelic 60s rock and new wave (think a modern version of the monkees…) with other influences that seem to still be being sorted through and organized as I suppose would be common for most LPs. I feel like this album still has a characteristic Australian indie rock feel to it that I associate with other great Australian bands like The Shins. There is a great mix of quiet, thoughtful synth tunes and more upbeat rock tracks yet the album as a whole is a great listen and a new favorite for long car rides (especially as the Husband likes it too, our musical tastes don’t always overlap!). A few of my favorite tracks include Seen No Right, Granite City, Steam and Ride.

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away

My absolute favorite of the month was this melancholic, subdued stunner of an album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I should preface anything further by saying that I have never listened to anything else by Nick Cave other than a song he did with Kylie Minogue once upon a time (thanks to singstar 90s) so I have no idea what any of his previous albums are like. Having said that this is one of my favorite albums of the year, maybe even the last five years or decade. I heard the last song on the album played on 95bfm (the best Auckland radio station in my opinion) and was hooked by its sombre simplicity and yet a hauting emotional intensity that really characterizes every song on the album. Every time I listen to this album I hear and feel brand new things. It’s a creative masterpiece that can come across as simple or laid back but is layered with so much complexity and feeling that I don’t even know where to begin. There are also some rather weird lyrics (Hannah Montanna and the African Savannah come up once or twice…) but I kind of like that, especially as they are being sung in Cave’s amazing baritone that reminds me of classic Leonard Cohen, just a bit stranger and more intense. The songs I can’t get enough of are Jubilee Street, Higgs Boson Street (a weird but wonderful song) and Push the Sky Away, which started this whole love affair.

See you soon with some more favorites!

Xx